Physical therapy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Physical therapy
Classification and external resources
This physical therapist is assisting two children with polio holding on to a rail whilst they exercise their lower limbs.

Physical therapy, also known as Physiotherapy in many English speaking countries, provides services to individuals and populations to develop, maintain and restore maximum movement and functional ability throughout the lifespan. This includes providing services in circumstances where movement and function are threatened by aging, injury, disease or environmental factors. Functional movement is central to what it means to be healthy.

Physical therapy is concerned with identifying and maximizing quality of life and movement potential within the spheres of promotion, prevention, treatment/intervention, habilitation and rehabilitation. This encompasses physical, psychological, emotional, and social well being. Physical therapy involves the interaction between physical therapist (PT), patients/clients, other health professionals, families, care givers, and communities in a process where movement potential is assessed and goals are agreed upon, using knowledge and skills unique to physical therapists.[1]

PTs utilize an individual's history and physical examination to arrive at a diagnosis and establish a management plan, and when necessary, incorporate the results of laboratory and imaging studies. Electrodiagnostic testing (e.g. electromyograms and nerve conduction velocity testing) may also be of assistance.[3]

Physical therapy has many specialties including cardiopulmonary, geriatrics, neurologic, orthopaedic and pediatrics to name some of the more common areas. PTs practice in many settings, such as outpatient clinics or offices, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, extended care facilities, private homes, education and research centers, schools, hospices, industrial workplaces or other occupational environments, fitness centers and sports training facilities.[4]

Educational qualifications vary greatly by country. The span of education ranges from some countries having little formal education to others requiring masters and doctoral degrees.

The integration of research evidence into practice has been, and continues to be, a challenge across the scope of medicine and physical therapy is no exception to this.[5]

Evedence-based practice

The integration of research evidence into practice has been, and continues to be, a challenge across the scope of medicine.[22][23][24][25] Physical Therapy is no exception to these challenges.[5] In a late 1990s survey of English and Australian physiotherapists, fewer than five percent (5%) of survey respondents indicated that they regularly reviewed scientific literature to guide practice decisions.[26][27] Despite an overall positive attitude towards evidence-based practice,[28] most physiotherapists utilized treatment techniques with little scientific support.[29][30] Although numerous calls have been made for a shift toward the use of research and scientific evidence to guide practice decisions, at least throughout the 1990s, "most physiotherapists continued to base practice decisions largely on anecdotal evidence."[30]

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